A desperate finish to the feature sprint at Trentham was decided by the photo-finish camera as South Island sprinter Enzo’s Lad pipped Ferrando by the barest of margins to take out his second Gr.1 JR&N Berkett Telegraph (1200m)
After mulling over the photo-finish image for several minutes judge Dick Hunt declared the Michael and Matthew Pitman-trained six-year-old the winner, the first horse to win the race in consecutive years since Mir Tiz in 1989/90.
The announcement sparked jubilant scenes in the Trentham birdcage as the large syndicate of owners involved in Enzo’s Lad went into overdrive celebrating the victory.
Successful at bolters odds ($74) in 2018, Enzo’s Lad was once again overlooked by punters despite being drawn to receive a dream run on the rail from a similar inside barrier to last year.
Positioned perfectly in the trail by rider Michael McNab, Enzo’s Lad travelled sweetly to the turn behind the hot speed set by Ferrando’s stablemate, Gift Of Power. Ferrando took over at the 300m mark with Enzo’s Lad in hot pursuit as the pair set down to a tooth and nail struggle, hitting the line locked together in a sensational 1.06.95 for the 1200m journey.
In the end Enzo’s Lad took the win by a nose with stablemate Sensei capping a sensational result for the Pitman team by storming home to dead-heat with 2017 winner Signify for third.
“We went into the race with a lot of confidence as he went massive at his last start,” Michael Pitman said.
“I was annoyed last year when he wasn’t a candidate for sprinter-miler of the year as people had described that field as the best in twenty years.
“He’s come out today and beaten an even better field, so I think he deserves some sort of recognition for that.
“He might come back now and have a crack next year. If you only win one race a year, but it’s a Group One, then it’s worth racing horses.”
McNab, who heard the announcement in the Jockeys’ room before being caught up in the frenetic birdcage scene, seemed stunned by the result when the announcement was made.
“That’s unbelievable,” he said.
“They didn’t call it and didn’t call it and I didn’t want a dead-heat.
“I just threw my gear everywhere, it’s just unreal.
“What a horse. I was coming down just before he got over the junction and I was just bolting but then he stumbled a bit.
“He mustered again real quick and when I got out, I thought ‘here goes the big boy’.
“I felt like I was going to get past, but I was running out of time – that’s just unreal.”
The victory capped a winning double for the Pitman/McNab combination who had taken out an earlier race with The Swiss Maestro while McNab made it a winning treble after also scoring on free-going stayer stayer Redcayenne.
Race favourite Melody Belle was the major disappointment in the contest, finishing well back after finding a mid-field position in the early running, with rider Jason Waddell reporting the mare had failed to handle the existing track conditions. – NZ Racing Desk
Wow! It's a thriller in the Group 1 JR & N Berkett Telegraph!— TAB Racing (@TAB_Racing) January 19, 2019
Last year's winner Enzo's Lad, ridden by Michael McNab and trained by the Pitmans, gets there by the barest of margins to down the Matthew Cameron-ridden Ferrando@SKYNZ #NZRacing pic.twitter.com/v12M7BEJHi